Two weeks ago I visited Orthopaedic Triage to get more information and advice about the back problems I’ve had over recent months.
There was good and bad news.
Unfortunately it’s a case of having 8 weeks off from sport, more energetic exercise and manual handling at work (difficult for a Physiotherapist!).
I’d made great progress since Christmas in terms of re-gaining full range of movement (I was moving around more gingerly than most 90 year-olds for a while!) and had got back to a decent level of activity/fitness. I’d even competed at the National track cycling championships.
However the advice is that I now need to back off and let the discs recover/heal – It’s rest or surgery apparently, so because I’m squeamish, I’ll give rest a go – reluctantly. The MRI had revealed that the L4/5 disc at the base of the spine and one a little higher (L2/3) were both degenerative (I’m clearly getting old). The lower disc had ‘blown’ and as a result is pressing on the sciatic nerve (really, I hadn’t noticed that) and the higher disc also has a big bulge with a significant risk also prolapsing. Words like ‘moderately-severe’ and ‘severe’ were used. Not great really.
I think the guy I saw was a bit surprised I’d been doing 3-4km swims, cycling 50+ miles and running up to 10k considering, but I’d just been trying to get back to normal (this is of course a relative term and shouldn’t really be used in relation to triathlon at any time). ‘Are you not in pain’ he asked. ‘Err, yeah, but I’m just ignoring it’ I replied.
I’m basically only allowed to do gentle swimming and after 2 weeks try some gentle cycling on an upright gym bike and easy core exercises. It’s a case of continuing like this until I no longer get nerve pains, which I’ve had pretty much every day since Christmas Eve.
After that it’s a case of taking it step-by-step, gradually re-introducing other activities and see what happens.
On a more positive note the guy I saw suggested a good recovery was possible, and, that I may yet make some end of season races including September’s Great North Run. I don’t know if that’s over-optimistic given it’s running that causes the most issues and it is 13 miles after all, but it’s nice to think it might happen.
I’ve been very good so far, OK fairly good (8/10 according to Jill – I got deducted one point for going lake swimming and another for suggesting we should go on holiday to Orlando in January so I could run the Disney World half marathon/Marathon).
In all seriousness though, I’m doing everything I can to improve things and have started a course of high powered K-laser treatments through Anglian Chiropractic Clinic in Norwich. It apparently helps the discs to re-hydrate and take in more nutrients needed for healing and helps with inflamation. It’s a pretty new thing with good research, so why not check it out.
So far so good. It seems progress is being made as I’ve had the odd day without nerve pain already – Hurrah!